Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Imaging tests increase risk of radiation damage

Radioactive hazard trefoilImage via Wikipedia

Doctors should weigh the benefits of medical imaging against the risk of cancer from cumulative exposures to radiation, as the use of the tests grows, researchers said.

Almost 70 per cent of around 950,000 patients surveyed underwent at least one imaging procedure, like a computer tomography scan, that exposed them to ionizing radiation over a three-year period, according to research published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Low-dose radiation from medical imaging procedures has been linked to cancer, lead author Reza Fazel said. 

Doctors should prescribe tests only when the benefits outweigh the risks, he said. Researchers analysed data from 952,420 people who are part of United Healthcare Group's United Healthcare unit, estimating patients' radiation exposure based on the imaging procedures they were given.

"It is important to note that we are talking about radiation doses that are incurred in one year," said Brahmajee Nallamothu, a study author and cardiologist from the University of Michigan. "Cumulative doses over a lifetime may be much higher." BLOOMBERG

From TODAY, World – Friday, 28-Aug-2009